November 30, 2022

Return of History to our basic education

Return of History to our basic education

IF for nothing else, the eight-year tenure of renowned journalist, Adamu Adamu as the Minister of Education, will be positively remembered as the era that restored History as subject in the curriculum of the Nigerian educational system.

As part of plans to put the scheme in place, the Minister partnered the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council, NERDC, and the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, to commence the training of 3,700 history teachers selected from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja. Each state is contributing 100 trainees to this pilot scheme.

History was discontinued in schools during the tenure of Aisha Jibril Dukku as Minister of Education under the late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s regime in 2009. Some of the reasons officially given were: history graduates had fewer job openings; there was a lack of student interest in the subject; and consequently, fewer history graduates were available to teach the subject.

However, the unspoken but real reason was the need by the ruling class to hide some of the elements of our history considered too ugly to expose our children to them. Of particular interest were the events that led to the Civil War, the war itself, and its aftermath.

For these or any other reason, phasing out history was an act of cowardice and leadership myopia. It is part of the duties of special advisers and special assistants to presidents and governors to point out the importance of this sort of thing or the implications of taking such decisions.

No matter how ugly our nation’s history is, we must bear in mind that many other countries have even uglier histories. What made the difference is that while others were brave and visionary enough to confront their histories and avoid repeating their ugly aspects, we buried ours in order to forget them, thus repeating the ugly aspects as if they were parts of our national hobbies.

Indeed, our education planners had taken their unwholesome apprehension of our educational developmental needs to ridiculous levels when the NERDC came out with the hare-brained plan to merge Christian Religious Knowledge, CRK, Islamic Religious Knowledge, IRK, and Social Studies into what they termed “Religion and National Values.” It was as if Christianity and Islam were the same or had become our official religions, contrary to the 1999 Constitution.

We applaud the decision to ensure that History is taught compulsorily at the basic level of the first nine years of education (up to junior secondary school level). We hope the approved history textbooks are allowed to capture the truth and nothing but the truth of our history responsibly, but without fear or favour.

The United States fought a more bitter civil war than ours, yet they don’t joke with their history. We must preserve ours for a better future.